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Without semesters or terms, how is Federal Student Aid (FSA) awarded?

Many students compare their experience with FSA at other schools to their experience at University of Phoenix. This can cause confusion because FSA works a little differently at a nonterm school such as University of Phoenix. Below, I explain how these nonterm academic years and payment periods affect FSA awards and disbursements at University of Phoenix.

The FSA program defines three types of academic calendars: standard term, nonstandard term and nonterm. All schools, including University of Phoenix, must abide by the federal regulations as dictated for each type of academic calendar.

At most traditional schools, courses begin and end within a set period of time. These programs are either standard term or nonstandard term.

At University of Phoenix, students have the flexibility to enroll continuously throughout the year, starting and stopping courses according to each individual’s schedule, not an academic calendar. For this reason, University of Phoenix is considered a nonterm school.

Standard term

In a standard-term academic calendar, all classes are scheduled to begin and end within a set period of time and academic progress is measured in semester, trimester or quarter credit hours.

Semesters and trimesters are around 14 to 17 weeks long. An academic calendar with semesters traditionally has two terms: fall and spring. A trimester academic calendar traditionally has three terms: fall, spring and summer.

Similarly, quarter terms are approximately 10 to 12 weeks in length. The academic calendar includes quarters in fall, winter, spring and often summer.

Nonstandard term

Nonstandard terms are not semester, trimester or quarter terms. However, all coursework is expected to begin and end within a set period of time.

Nonterm

A program follows a nonterm calendar if progress is measured in credit hours, can overlap terms, and courses are offered sequentially but do not begin and end all at the same time.

If you have questions, please contact your Finance Advisor. You may also contact me directly at kim.murphy@phoenix.edu.

University of Phoenix is a nonterm school — measuring progress in credit hours without a set period of time when courses must begin and end. This designation affects how academic years are defined and FSA funds are awarded.

Academic year defined

Every eligible program of study has a defined academic year so eligibility for FSA can be determined. Federal regulations require that an academic year have a minimum of 30 weeks of instructional time and 24 credit hours for undergraduate students. This is how University of Phoenix defines an academic year.

Academic year payment periods

The timing and amount of your FSA award is based on your academic year and payment periods. Each academic year is generally divided into two payment periods. The first is the period in which you successfully complete half the credit hours and weeks in the academic year.

The second is the period in which you successfully complete the remaining credit hours and weeks in the academic year.

Successful completion means finishing the course with at least the minimum grade required to obtain credit.

At a nonterm school like University of Phoenix, the next payment period cannot begin until you successfully complete the previous one. This means no more FSA funds can be disbursed until a new payment period begins, and no new payment period can begin until you successfully complete the necessary credit hours from the prior payment period.

Payment periods in academic years less than 24 credit hours

If you don’t have a full academic year left in your program of study, the academic year will consist of only the remaining credits. The academic year will be divided into two payment periods, as explained above. The FSA award is then prorated based on those remaining credits.

The basic idea behind proration is receiving FSA only for credits enrolled. As an example, if 24 credit hours will make you eligible for 100 percent of your FSA award, then 12 credit hours will make you eligible for 50 percent.

If you have questions, please contact your Finance Advisor. You may also contact me directly at kim.murphy@phoenix.edu.

University of Phoenix is a nonterm school — measuring progress in credit hours. This designation affects how Federal Student Aid (FSA) funds are awarded and disbursed.

Payment periods and disbursements

At a nonterm school like University of Phoenix, no new FSA funds can be disbursed until a new payment period begins, and no new payment period can begin until you successfully complete the necessary credit hours from the prior payment period.

It is important to remember that eligibility for the next FSA disbursement is also based on your attendance. FSA funds cannot be released until you have confirmed attendance in your scheduled course(s).

Please keep in mind that dropping courses, changing your schedule or earning nonpassing grades —  like W, F or I — typically extends the time it takes to complete the payment period, causing a delay in the next disbursement of FSA funds.

If you have questions, please contact your Finance Advisor. You may also contact me directly at kim.murphy@phoenix.edu.

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